Arguably the most famous brand in single malt scotch whisky. Its a total icon of the genre, the Bob Hope of the whisky world; it’s been around for as long as we can remember and it is still relevant and knocking out quality scotch like Mr Hope did with his jokes for so many years.
I must admit I was very late to the party when it comes to Glenfiddich. I was a peat-head from the start. My favourite drams were Laphroaig 10 and Caol Ila 12. Glenfiddich for me was looked at like a chicken korma at an Indian restaurant. Not nearly exciting enough, nothing to blow your mind but always there. And that’s just it. I can pretty much guarantee that if I walk into a pub or bar in the United Kingdom I will be able to get a dram of Glenfiddich 12. The stuff is omnipresent and is often declared by the supermarkets as the one whisky that your Dad or Grandad will love for Christmas, and they do. But I sometimes think that’s because that’s all they ever drink. They like the taste of it so stick with it, and good luck to them on that score. And at first glance it just seems like a boring way to be. But credit to Glenfiddich for creating a product that tastes the same now as back when your Dad or Grandad started drinking it 40 or 50 years ago. When I visited the distillery last year I asked about the blending of the 12 year old, as with some single malts older whisky is added to get the flavour just right. Thing is, Glenfiddich is so good at cask selection, distillation and maturation storage I was told that this situation never occurs. Their stocks are so large that all of their 12 year old aged scotch is just that. There’s no sneaky 22 year old added to keep the flavour right. They really are dedicated to creating the same quality and standard of product that they always have done.
If you switch my youthful opinion of Glenfiddich to other global brands you can kind of see how ridiculous I was being. Nobody moans that Coca-Cola tastes the same as it always did, nobody moans that McDonalds is everywhere. Like it or not these brands are the leading marks in global fast food and beverages and I enjoy them so why should I be so ignorant of Glenfiddich. I endeavoured to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
So starting at the 12 year old I began my investigations into this world famous malt.
But before I give you my thoughts I always feel that explaining the environment I was drinking in helps to set the scene for my tasting experience. I’ve tried old and rare malts in several different places but they’ve always tasted different based on my mood and location. FYI Old Pulteney 17 tastes much better in the Malt Room Bar Inverness than it does on a windy day in February in your friends back garden as they try to light the BBQ in gale force winds. But I digress.
I was sat in my armchair at home with the radio on quietly in the background playing a bit of Marc Riley on Radio 6 Music. He’d just played a session track by Billy Bragg – The Few when I took my first sip.
Glenfiddich 12. Wow that’s got a zing to it. Almost effervescent on my tongue, and as almost as soon as that arrives it disappears into pear drops. Whiffs of oak on the nose and on the tongue as you swallow it down. Honestly, bit too lively on the tip of the tongue for my palette. Time for a bit of water. Much better, lighter more pear drops and oak now on the taste, easy going down. Light and sort of refreshing I guess.
Glenfiddich 15. Ok, are we even at the same distillery. Totally different animal. How can this taste heavy and light at the same time? Plenty of sherry and fruit but its just so smooth, this is a session whisky, this is something to be really savoured and enjoyed. no need for water at all. Great stuff, will have to get a full bottle of this stuff for sure.
Glenfiddich 18. Hmm. Different again! Kind of like the fruity notes of the 15 but with a more citrusy bite with maybe a bit of honey too? Added a bit of water. More honey now, bit of pear drops. Not what I was expecting at all.
Well that was certainly an experience. 15 year old won that for me it ticks all my whisky boxes fruit and depth and sherry and oak and just good stuff. Credit however has to go to the 12yo too. It was a great starting point for my tasting session and really opened up my tastebuds firstly to appreciate itself but then to also show off the powers of the 15.
This experience was had about 5 years ago. My main take-away I’ve had from it is to always have a Glenfiddich 12 on hand. It really enhances your tasting experience. have it at the start of a tasting session and use it as a marker. You know what it tastes like, so it’s a great thing to contrast with other whiskies.
For Drinkers. For Thinkers. For Fun.
All views are my own. Miniature set was bought by myself at my local supermarket.